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Italian restaurant needed for birthday date

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Taking the girl out to dinner for her birthday and looking for a really good (food-wise) restaurant that would be a good scene for us. Doesn't have to be romantic (although it can be), but want it to be fun, with the food being the priority. I'm leaning towards an Italian place, but if it's not Italian and fits the criteria, I'd love to hear about it.

As for $$$, the absolute maximum for the bill for the two of us, including wine and tip should be $150. Less is certainly fine too. Also the dinner is this Thursday so it has to be a place that I can get a reservation for. Thanks in advance.

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  1. I would have suggested Scarpetta but thursday is short notice. L'Artusi is a good place for that as well. Crispo would definitely fit the budget - i love it, but the reviews are mixed for this place

    Is there a preferred location/neighborhood?

    1 Reply
    1. re: kelea

      Not really. Anywhere in Manhattan works. If I had to choose I'd probably go more downtown, but as long as it's good we're willing to travel.

    2. You could probably try Peasant and/or Apizz. They're both nice and you could definitely do $150 or less. I like Crispo, but yeah, many people feel differently. The other thing I'd say about Crispo is that it's not really an "occasion" place.

      1 Reply
      1. re: egit

        Agree with Peasant and Apizz.

        Crispo's food for me is very "blah" but it's a good spot for a group since there's easily shareable plates.

        I'd also add Da Andrea.

      2. Yes, Thursday is a bit short notice for an Italian restaurant that has good food, good scene and is less than $150 for 2. If you're willing to do an off time (like early or late), it's possible you could go to Locanda Verde. It fits your price range, it's fits your area of town (Tribeca) and it has good food. Just named by Esquire as one of the Top 20 new restaurants in the US.

        Another good option (but again, might be hard to get a reservation) is Lupa.

        3 Replies
        1. re: edwardspk

          I always thought Crispo got great reviews on this board - what don't people like about it (assuming the meal doesn't have to be an "occasion" meal?)

          1. re: pizzajunkie

            The reviews for Crispo were always great, that's why I was underwhelmed the first time I went. I was expecting a masterpiece, but I walked away from my meal with the conclusion that Crispo was more of a neighborhood, not destination, restaurant. That's not to say that the food wasn't good.

            www.thelunchbelle.com

            1. re: LeahBaila

              Thanks Leah - hmmmm, so many choices - I will keep looking, thank you!

        2. Apizz

          1. This is probably too late but Spina in east village/alphabet city is a good place too. Hand made pasta, the atmosphere is super cute with exposed brick. The wait staff is awesome.

            1. Spigolo- 81st and 1st. Not too pricey, romantic, great service and delicious

              1 Reply
              1. re: heinlein42

                Agree on Spigolo. Nice place, good food.

              2. Apizz keeps getting mentioned on here, and for good reason. Hearth, nouveau American and not Italian, might be nice as well.